Gluten Free Recipes – What 10 Grains Can Be Substituted For Wheat?

Gluten-free recipes can be challenging, and looking at all the grain bins at the health food store can be intimidating. Whether you have celiac disease, gluten intolerance, wheat allergies, or choose to follow a gluten-free diet, you need to know not only which grains have gluten, but also which grains are gluten-free and can be substituted.

Here’s a list of 10 gluten-free grains with a bit of information on each.

  1. Amaranth (Amaranthus spp.) – a small grain that was a staple food of the Aztecs. Cortez had anyone who grew this crop put to death when he tried to wipe out this civilization. It has a mild peppery flavor. The protein is relatively high at 13%-14% and contains lysine which is an amino acid to make this a complete protein. It is a pseudo-grain like buckwheat and quinoa. It is often cooked as a cereal similar to oatmeal, in sweet or savory dishes, as a side dish, salad, crackers, even pancakes and popped like popcorn (in a smaller size).
  2. Buckwheat (Fagopyrum Esculentum) – not wheat but a fruit seed related to the rhubarb plant. Contains rutin which helps strengthen capillary walls and is being studied for its ability to lower blood pressure. Deep nutty flavor and delicious with sweeter vegetables like carrots, parsnips and caramelized onions. The name is recognized here with buckwheat pancakes, but you may not know that crepes from Brittany, kasha from Russia, and soba noodles from Japan are all made from buckwheat.
  3. Corn – (Zea Mays) is actually a grain, not a vegetable. Think cornmeal, cornmeal, corn tortillas, polenta, and cornbread. A different variety called sweet corn for corn on the cob as a vegetable and of course there is another variety called popcorn. Traditional in Latin cooking, corn is treated with alkali for masa harina. This releases the niacin in the corn to help those who rely on this grain as a staple food avoid pellagra (a niacin or B3 deficiency) which affects the skin, digestive system and nervous system. Eating corn with beans creates a mixture of amino acids that increases the value of protein for humans. Research shows that corn has the highest level of antioxidants of any grain or vegetable, approximately twice that of apples.
  4. Darling (Panicum Miliaceum) – a tiny grain, high in magnesium that supports nerves and muscles. Cultivated for thousands of years and popular in many diets around the world. The leading staple grain in India, common in China, South America, Russia and the Himalayas. Now it’s becoming popular in the US and not just as bird food. A light touch of corn flavor with a herbaceous touch like quinoa.
  5. oatmeal (Avena Sativa) – Naturally gluten-free, but often stored with wheat and therefore contaminated with gluten. Know where your oats come from to be sure. Oats rarely have the bran and germ removed during processing, making them somewhat unique. Studies show that oats have beta-glucan that helps lower cholesterol and an antioxidant called avenanthramides that helps protect blood vessels from damage caused by LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  6. Rice (Oryza Sativa) – White rice is refined, which means the bran and germ have been removed. Converted rice is parboiled before being refined. This process pushes some of the B vitamins into the endosperm so they are not lost when the bran is extracted. This means that converted rice is a healthier option than white rice, but it’s still missing some nutrients found in brown rice. Brown rice has less fiber than most whole grains, but it is rich in many nutrients. Brown rice is always whole grain, as is black rice, red rice, and other colors except white. Rice is one of the easiest grains to digest, which makes it more often recommended as a baby’s first solid food. It is also ideal for many people with a restricted diet and/or gluten intolerance.
  7. quinoa (Chenopodium Quinoa) (keen-wah) – a small seed from South America cultivated for centuries in the Andes by the Incas. Much appreciated for its high protein content. It comes in different varieties: white, purple, red and black and as a blend. The white is softer and resembles sesame seeds. They all have an earthy flavor with a slight grassy or herbal flavor. This seed is naturally coated with saponin which gives it a bitter taste to prevent insects and birds from eating it. Most packaged quinoas have already had this coating removed, but you can still find recipes that tell you to rinse them to remove the bitter taste.
  8. Sorghum or Milo (Sorghum spp.) – Originated in Africa around 8000 BC. This is the third most important crop here in America and the fifth in the world. A softer flour texture than rice flour for baking. Baked goods have a softer, non-gritty texture.
  9. teff (Eragrostis Tef)- Another ancient grain originating from Africa and the main source of nutrition for about 2/3 of Ethiopians. Prepared as injera (a spongy flatbread) it is 100% teff. These kernels are very small (about 1/150 of a grain of wheat) of a reddish-brown to ivory color. Ivory has a milder flavor. High in calcium and vitamin C. It has a smooth texture that melts in your mouth when cooked.
  10. wild rice (Zizania SPP.) – It is actually a grass (an aquatic weed) and the only grain native to North America. Even today it is harvested by hand in canoes in the Great Lakes area of ​​the US, by American Indians primarily in Minnesota. Today it is grown primarily in the wild and now also as a cultivated crop in California, Oregon, and the Midwest. Wild rice has a distinctive nutty flavor and takes longer to cook than white rice and remains chewy. It is often paired with brown rice.

Hopefully, this information on 10 Gluten-Free Grains will open your eyes to new grains and flavors that you can substitute in your gluten-free recipes. Pay attention to your seasonings too. Use gluten-free seasonings, as you may not be aware that many seasoning mixes have gluten added.

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